Can You Log Flight Time If You Don’t Take Off?

This is a knotty question with no definitive answer given by the Federal Aviation Administration.

There are a few reasons why you might taxi the plane but not take off. It could be that there is a mechanical or maintenance issue with the plane, bad weather, or an incident affecting the airspace.

In these situations, pilots may have already taxied the plane out of the hangar and onto the runway. If the flight is cancelled, they will need to taxi them back.

Now, in the FAA guidelines flight time is defined as:

“Time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purposes of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing.”

Some pilots argue that taxing qualifies as ‘moving…for the purposes of flight’ because they have every intention of flying. The fact that the flight was cancelled last minute doesn’t change the purpose of the movement.

Other pilots argue that the definition does not include the time spent taxing to and from cancelled flights because no flight occurred. Therefore, the purpose of the journey didn’t end up being flight.

They also argue that as the FAA says that flight time ends ‘after landing’ a plane must have taken off first in order to land. Therefore, cancelled flights do not count.

Ultimately, the FAA hasn’t offered further guidance, so it remains unclear. It’s best to log the time anyway. If flight schools, employers, or airlines don’t want to count that time, then they won’t.

The fact of the matter is that even just taxing to and from parking is valuable experience. You also get experience of communicating with the tower and making critical flight decisions. Cancelled flights are a part of a pilot’s life after all, you need to know how to handle them.

Can You Log Instrument Time as a SIC?

First of all, let’s clear up what is meant by instrument time.

There are two types of instrument time, actual instrument time and simulated instrument time. The actual time refers to flight time when conditions required you to rely on instruments for navigation. This could be due to low sun, clouds, or moonless nights making it difficult and unreliable to operate the aircraft by sight.

Simulated instrument time is when the pilot wears goggles or similar device that impairs their vision. This is designed to simulate conditions that would force a pilot to rely on their instruments.

You need to log at least 40 hours of instrument flight time to get your instrument rating. You must then perform 6 instrument flights per 6 months to maintain this rating.

If you are logging time using simulated conditions you need to have a safety pilot with you. These pilots are counted as required crew members which means that they are allowed to log instrument flight time.

They are not, however, allowed to log approaches and take-offs unless they were the PIC manipulating the aircraft.

Does SIC Count as Total Time?

Before we answer that, let’s look at that term ‘total time.’

This is not a phrase used by the Federal Aviation Administration, but it is often found on job listings and in forum pages.

Total time refers to the total amount of hours you’ve flown. It differs from total flight time which is the total number of hours you have been in control of the aircraft.

When calculating your total time, you can include SIC because you were in the air and contributing to the flight. SIC time applies if you are a required crewmate like a safety pilot or a first officer. It doesn’t apply if you are a passenger.

If a job listing asks for your total time, you should list all your experience including PIC, SIC, CFI, and alternative aircraft time. You want to show off and display your skills, after all. If they don’t want to count certain parts of your experience, they are more than welcome to disregard irrelevant experience.

That being said, it is important not to use ‘total time’ to deceive employers. It is best if you break down your total time into subheadings that illustrate where these hours came from. That way the employer has a better understanding of your ability and experiences.

What Is Dual Given Flight Time?

Dual given flight time relates to the time you have spent given instruction in a dual control aircraft. It differs from dual received time which relates to the time spent receiving instruction in a dual control aircraft.

Dual given flight time is logged by the instructor in their logbook after an instructed flight. Dual received flight time is logged by the pilot in the other person’s logbook. The CFI must endorse the dual received flight time, or it won’t be a valid log.

Let’s look at a scenario for clarity.

Two private pilots rent a plane together and go up. Pilot A is a certified flight instructor while Pilot B is not.

Pilot B is the PIC because they are manipulating the controls and take responsibility for the plane.  Pilot A acts as a CFI giving instruction to their friend.

After the flight, Pilot A records their time as dual given in their logbook. They do not need Pilot B to sign or endorse this.

Pilot B also records his flight time but as dual received flight time. They need Pilot A to sign and endorse the flight time according to FAA rules.

It’s important to remember that you should only record dual given time if you have been giving instruction. If you went flying with a friend and acted as a passenger, that is you didn’t give instruction, you cannot log dual given time.

Similarly, your friend cannot log dual received time if they did not receive instruction from you while in the air or on the ground.